A quantitative analytical method was developed for the determination of acylated oleanane-type triterpene saponins, chakasaponins I–III (1–3) and floratheasaponins A–F (4–9), found in Camellia sinensis (Theaceae). The practical conditions for separation and detection of these saponins were established on an ODS column with methanol containing 5 mM trifluoroacetic acid as a mobile phase, and the detection and quantitation limits of the method were estimated to be 1.1–3.8 and 3.5–12.5 ng, respectively. The relative standard deviation values of intra- and interday precision were lower than 2.35 and 6.12%, respectively, overall mean recoveries of all saponins being 94.7–108.8%, and the correlation coefficients of all the calibration curves showed good linearity within the test ranges. To approve the validity of the protocol, extracts of 13 kinds of C. sinensis collected in China, Taiwan, Japan, and India were evaluated. The results indicated that the assay was reproducible and precise, and could be readily utilized for the quality evaluation of tea flowers. It was noteworthy that the distinct regional difference was observed with respect to the content of chakasaponins and floratheasaponins, more chakasaponins being contained in the extracts of tea flowers from Fujian and Sichuan provinces, China than those from Japan, Taiwan, and India. Optimum conditions for the extraction process were also established.
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This work was supported by ‘High-tech Research Center’ Project for Private Universities: matching fund subsidy from MEXT, 2007-2011 and also supported by a Grant-in Aid for Scientific Research by JSPS.
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